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Did Charlotte crash end Johnson's shot at six?

October 17, 2011, ,

Going into the Bank of America 500, Jimmie Johnson was right where he needed to be. Johnson was four points out of first going into one of his best tracks in Charlotte Motor Speedway. But on Lap 317, Johnson got a little too aggressive racing with Ryan Newman and the No. 48 slammed the Turn 2 wall.

Are Johnson's title hopes finished after Charlotte crash?


I'm sorry Jimmie Johnson fans, but the quest for six championships came to an abrupt end Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The late-race crash, which gave Johnson his second finish outside the top 10 in five Chase races, dropped the defending Cup champion to eighth in points, 35 points behind leader Carl Edwards.

I know there is a new points system, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out Johnson making up 35 points is going to be a nearly impossible task. I have no doubt Johnson will put up great finishes the rest of the way and even win one or two more, but the problem for Johnson is there just isn't much weakness ahead of him.

Johnson will have to finish, on average, seven positions better than Edwards in the next five races to catch him. Not impossible, but not probable either. Johnson scored seven points higher than Edwards in five races all season, now he's supposed to do it five in a row? Edwards is 5-for-5 in top-10s this Chase, including four top-fives. He's peaking at just the right time, which is a huge detriment to Johnson's title hopes.

But it's not just Edwards that Johnson has to get around. Kevin Harvick hasn't finished worse than 12th in the Chase and Matt Kenseth is in a streak of sixth, fifth, fourth and first in his past four Chase races.

It's been a great run for Johnson, but on Lap 317 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson's championship hopes came to a crashing end.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

The fascination the NASCAR media has with the weekly handwringing about Jimmie Johnson's chances of winning a sixth consecutive Chase borders on the bipolar and may require an entire convention of psychiatrists to treat.

He finishes 18th at New Hampshire? He's done. He wins at Kansas? Now he's a solid gold lock again. He wrecks at Charlotte? He's toast. What gives? Hasn't anybody learned from 2006, and 2007, and 2008, and 2009, and 2010?

As a corollary to Antony's soliloquy from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, I've come to praise Johnson, not to dump a truckload of dirt on his championship chances. OK, so he's eighth in the points. However, he's all of 35 points out. Three races ago, he was 29 points behind -- and then went out and finished second and first. All it did was make him mad. Who knows what he'll do now?

Is it that easy to forget who won at Talladega in the spring? Who has six victories at Martinsville? Who has been dominant in the past at Phoenix? Who has the genius of head cheerleader Chad Knaus on the pit box?

There isn't anybody in the garage with more experience at knowing what he needs to do with five races remaining than the guy behind the wheel of the No. 48, and every competitor is thinking that same thing. Sorry, but until Johnson is mathematically eliminated, there's no way I'm calling this over.

Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

When all was said and done, Johnson went from third in points to eighth, now 35 behind points leader Carl Edwards with five races remaining. Some Johnson-friendly tracks are coming up with Talladega, Martinsville and Phoenix, but 35 points is a lot to make up in a short amount of time. Did the crash at Charlotte bring to an end Johnson's chances for a historic sixth consecutive championship? Bill Kimm and Mark Aumann have their passionate arguments. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in the poll at the right.